2016 Syracuse basketball recruit Tyus Battle plays a little foosball during study hall at St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen N.J. Dennis Nett | firstname.lastname@example.org
Syracuse, N.Y. — He stood among a group of family and friends, wearing a navy Syracuse pullover with a block S stitched over his heart and a Syracuse cap pulled over his head.
Tyus Battle said about 40 people gathered Wednesday night at The Brown Stone in Metuchen, N.J., "a comfortable place, close to home" where he would ceremonially sign his name to a document that delivered his basketball fate to Syracuse University. The coveted guard called Orange coach Jim Boeheim, then put his name to paper.
The moment, like Matthew Moyer's last week in Connecticut, was weighted with emotion.
"A verbal commitment, you know, you can change your mind. Signing the letter is just a totally different thing," said Battle, who had once given a verbal pledge to Michigan. "It's just making a commitment to both the school and to myself. So it was very emotional for me, for my family. I couldn't have done it without the people behind me. It just meant a lot to me."
"This was a dream from the day he was born. I was a basketball junkie. I played Division II basketball," Gary Battle said. "When he was born, I was watching ESPN in the hospital at 7:23 p.m. on the 23rd of September. I wanted to name him Jordan, but his mother didn't agree to that."
Instead, Tyus Battle grew up to be one of the nation's top prep guards, a combination of size — he is 6-foot-5 — and skill that attracted suitors across America. In his brief conversation with Jim Boeheim on Wednesday night, Tyus told his future coach how nice it was to talk with him again.
"He said he was happy to have me at 'Cuse," Battle said. "And I told him I was just happy to be there. I told him I was hoping we could bring another national championship to his team. That's the main goal."
"We know we chose the right place," Gary Battle said. "Boeheim and those guys really believe in him. Everybody knows he has a lot of talent. They believe he'll be at a place where he'll be able to put it all together in the classroom and on the basketball court."
Syracuse University reported it had received Battle's official letter, which the family signed and sent a couple days ago. But the Battles wanted to celebrate the moment and Wednesday — the final day of the early signing period — offered the most convenient time for everybody close to Tyus to convene.
Tyus spoke to the happy faces gathered before him and marveled at how many people from his past and present showed up to pay tribute to him. "So many emotions," he said later, when describing how much that scene moved him.
"He's a sweetheart. He really is," Gary Battle said. "That's the thing that's unique about Tyus. He's a truly genuine kid."